Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Fast food for thought

The Complete History of America (Abridged)

Highbury Theatre Centre


HIGHBURY head into their first production of the 2014 with frenetic review show The Complete History of America (Abridged).

Written by Austin Tichnenor, Reed Martin, and Adam Long it’s a format that they have applied to the works of Shakespeare and the Bible, so taking on the relatively short history of the USA must have been an easy task.

The original trio has changed in its contributing writers over the years but the overall style has been described as `New Vaudeville’ fusing elements of physical performance, witty fact and gag based scripts that paraphrase their subjects in a rambling but connected sketch style.

All of the parts, which are many, fell to the capable hands of Niko Adilypour as Reed, Elizabeth Knight as Austin and Simon Baker as Adam.

The range of characters, accents, speeches, costume changes and comedy in the play, if it can be called that, certainly gives an actor the chance to flex their performance range and this trio never held back in their enthusiasm and energy.

Niko was something of what might be called be the straight man of the three, playing the part of Reed and confidently delivered this complex and very wordy piece.

It fell to Simon Baker as Adam to carry most of the cross-dressing female characters and he did so in true Monty Python style rather than Danny La Rue.

Newcomer Elizabeth Knight showed the best handling of accents in her gusty performance covering everything it seemed from Texas to Russia and also showed she had a good singing voice too at one point.

It’s no surprise that the original writers were invited to perform at the Edinburgh fringe as the work has a very `student/footlights feel to it.

Being the USA, the material feels at times a little disinteresting, unless you happen to be versed in current affairs and America politics, but in truth it’s not a exactly a history lesson. There is no doubt that the Highbury team here proved they have a great deal of skill and coordination and under the tight direction of Nigel Higgs, brought this fast paced review to life, with great comic effect. To 18-01

Jeff Grant 

Highbury Theatre Centre

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